If you are a college starting pitcher, the Orioles probably wanted to look up your number for the draft this year. Adding their eight day two picks to the ones they made on Thursday night, the Orioles have now drafted eight pitchers, six of whom come from the college ranks.
My pick recap for the O's three day one picks, including top pick Cody Sedlock from the University of Illinois, can be found here.
The most notable pick the Orioles made on the second day of the draft was not a pitcher at all, though. That would be their seventh round pick, Preston Palmeiro, a first baseman from North Carolina State University. Yes, that Palmeiro. Preston is Rafael’s son.
A 6’0" lefty batter, the younger Palmeiro is built like his father, and apparently swings like him, too. That’s according to the elder Palmeiro himself, who spoke to Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball on Friday evening after Preston was drafted.
Rafael Palmeiro told Connolly that the O’s reached out to the family before the draft to ask whether there would be too much baggage involved for the family with the O’s drafting Preston. "We were totally all in," said the former Oriole.
It's actually a bit of a surprise that the son of a major leaguer slipped as low as the seventh round. Those kinds of players usually go earlier. Perhaps it's because the Palmeiro name makes things complicated, or perhaps it’s because he's not yet got the power teams would look for in a first baseman.
Preston Palmeiro was ranked as the 292nd prospect on the Baseball America 500.
The elder Palmeiro, admittedly a biased source of information, thinks his son will develop power with maturity and also believes N.C. State’s home stadium is a bad one for power hitters. That's not true of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as Palmeiro knows as well as anyone.
A parade of high schoolers
Starting in the fourth round, the Orioles picked three straight players from the high school ranks. Two are pitchers: Fourth round pick Brenan Hanifee, from Bridgewater, VA, and sixth rounder Tobias Myers, from Winter Haven, FL. In the fifth round they grabbed shortstop Alexis Torres from Colegio Angel David in Puerto Rico.
Hanifee, #181 on the BA500, is the best rated prospect of the three of these. He is interesting as well because, as the MLB.com draft broadcast relayed on Friday, Hanifee’s father is an Orioles fan who even has an Orioles tattoo. Hanifee himself, from some of his tweets, sure looks like he's been an O's fan for a while.
Many Virginians have given in to their historic tendency to turn traitor in recent years, but it seems the Hanifee family is not among them - and now that Hanifee is in the O’s system, I'm sure that’s an even stronger tie.
The draft broadcast labeled the 6’4" Hanifee as "projectable, maybe even ultra-projectable," which usually reflects a belief that the player could add velocity as his frame fills out. Hanifee is listed at 185 lbs., which is not a lot for a professional baseball player of that height.
Baseball America’ s Michael Lananna hinted that the O’s may have snagged Hanifee before the Pirates, who were interested, could take him. (Correction: The Pirates in this tweet appears to actually refer to the East Carolina University Pirates, where Hanifee is committed to attend.)
Torres, the shortstop, received this report from Fangraphs back in November:
Torres has the obvious tools to play the infield, but his footwork and transfer to release skills are a bit lacking for a prototypical shortstop. At the plate, he has an excellent hand path with tons of athleticism in his swing. Right now his swing and build don’t project to give him even average power, but average or better grades across the board otherwise make him a very intriguing player to follow.
Torres is listed at 6’0" and 183 lbs. The concern about his build brings to mind another high school shortstop the O's drafted a few years ago, 2012’s third rounder Adrian Marin, listed at 6’0" and 180 lbs. Marin is a fringy hitter who’s never developed the power - for Bowie this year, he’s batting .227/.288/.307.
Not much harm in taking a stab at a similar player, this time in the fifth round, to see if he develops differently.
Myers, the Florida pitcher, was deep on the BA500 at #324. Here’s what they had to say about him:
Myers had some early buzz this spring after he touched 93 mph with his fastball, but has more typically pitched around 90 mph. He combines his fastball with a solid curveball and a seldom-used changeup. Myers is a good athlete and has a loose, easy delivery that he repeats well. He earns praise for his pitchability. Listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, there is some projection to him, particularly because has been a two-way player in high school.
I don't know where they get 6’1" and 175 lbs. as he’s listed by the Orioles as 6’0" and 190, but hey, the world of obscure prospects is a predictably vague place.
MLB Advanced Media produced a short video package from an outing Myers had last July:
Don’t expect too much from a sixth round pick on general principle - but, if a sixth round pick was going to surprise you, Myers achieving some of the projection that the BA scouting report mentions is one way it might happen.
Back to the college ranks
The first Orioles pick of the day was a college outfielder: Austin Hays from Jacksonville University, picked in the third round. They went high school for three picks as outlined above, then added Palmeiro before closing the day with three pitchers.
Those pitchers are Ryan Moseley, a righty from Texas Tech, picked in the eighth round; Lucas Humpal, a righty from Texas State, picked in the ninth round; and Cody Dube of Keene State College (NH), picked in the tenth round of the draft.
Humpal and Dube are both college seniors, meaning they are likely just players who will sign for a small signing bonus. That will allow the Orioles to use some of that slot money on signing some of their other draft picks. This is a common strategy for teams.
In general - though of course there are always exceptions - college players with the most potential have been drafted and signed before they become seniors.
Hays, the highest-drafted position player by the Orioles this year, was described on the draft broadcast after his selection as "the rare toolsy college outfielder." The label "toolsy" is more typically put on high school draftees who are more athletes bringing skills to baseball than polished baseball players yet.
The people at BA were highest on Hays, rating him as their 47th prospect for the draft. That makes him an interesting potential value pick; getting the #47 guy at #91 is how you have a good draft.
Others rated him lower, with Baseball Prospectus bringing him in at #80 and MLB.com putting him 120th. Still, even the lowest rated one at MLB gave him this scouting report:
The right-handed Floridian uses a short and handsy swing to consistently make the ball jump off his bat. Hays doesn't waste a lot of motion and has shown both the ability to hit for average and power, albeit it in a weaker conference. It might be more doubles power at the next level, but Hays has shown over-the-fence ability is in there. His plus arm also profiles well in right field, where he is a very capable defender.
With the caveat that almost everybody sounds like a future big leaguer in their MLB.com scouting report, that sounds like a fine player to get to add in the third round of the draft, especially considering he’s an outfielder and the Orioles minor league outfield depth is almost nonexistent.
Moseley, the Texas Tech pitcher, is not anywhere to be found on the BA500. That may sound problematic, but he was actually a pick that excited Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo on the draft broadcast. Before this year, Moseley was seen as a potential first round pick on the strength of his first two seasons in the Texas Tech rotation.
The hiccup that sent him down to the eighth round is that he was pulled from the rotation after only three starts this year. The problem? His "control and command aren’t sharp." Well, that’s a familiar story. He may be a future reliever, although MLB’s scouting capsule says pro clubs, presumably including the Orioles, aren't ready to kick him to the bullpen forever just yet.
Maybe the most interesting thing about Moseley is this: "His primary weapon is a 91-95mph fastball with power sink."
Every time the Orioles draft a pitcher whose sinker is his best pitch, an angel gets its wings. They could do a whole lot worse than collecting a bunch of sinkerballers, seeing who’s good enough to move up the ladder, and going from there.
A best case scenario for the deeper rounds of this draft would probably be something like the O's 2013 draft, where, three years later, despite Hunter Harvey’s injury problems, the Orioles still have five players with at least a little bit of prospect potential - and two more, Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault, were pieces in a trade.
Never mind that the Travis Snider trade was terrible, it speaks well of the O’s scouting staff that they found a third rounder and an eleventh rounder who could be traded for a big leaguer.
Best of luck to all of these picks, and the ones who will be drafted today, in their professional careers. Hopefully a few years down the road we will get to see them having success in an Orioles uniform.